DAVE Shaw will take a tougher line with his Rocester players next season.
The Romans conclude their Midland Alliance campaign at Walsall Wood tomorrow, kick-off 3pm, and will finish in the bottom two.
If they match or better Heather St John’s’ result at Alvechurch they will at least avoid the ignominy of finishing rock bottom, but relegation beckons.
Rocester endured a 5-0 hammering at home to Bodmere St Michaels last Saturday, before a goalless draw against Heath Hayes on Monday sealed their fate.
Two Rocester players failed to show up on Monday – without explanation or prior warning – highlighting issues Shaw has faced at Hillsfield.
“The problem has been that we have had to mollycoddle players,” said Shaw. “We’ve been turning up at games with 12 or 13 players.
“We haven’t been able to say ‘if you don’t turn up you will not be in future squads’.
“We’ve not had enough players to do that.
“Next season, when I’ve more lads in, if players are not going to turn up then either they come back and fight for their place, or they walk away.”
Shaw will not name the two Romans who were absent without leave.
“I want to hear what they say,” he said. “I’ll deal with that in-house.”
Those absentees meant Shaw was forced to play himself on Monday. And to make matters worse the Romans boss was sent off.
Heath Hayes’ Tom Baggott was dismissed in the same incident.
“The referee wanted to even things up,” said Shaw. “I was very disappointed with it.
“The referee has said I’ve raised my hands. Being on the floor at the time, I don’t know how I could do that.”
Shaw reckons there is still a “slight chance” Rocester could stay up, with just one team rather than the expected two dropping down.
But the manager is already planning for the future, with players like star striker Dan Brown committed to helping the Romans bounce back.
Against Walsall Wood, Shaw has a simple message for his players. He said: “I’ve just told the lads to go out there and enjoy it.”